Oil and gas in the UK

With over 100 years of onshore exploration and 50 years in the North Sea, the UK has unique expertise in oil and gas exploration and production.

The oil and gas industry in the UK

There are over 380 UK fields producing oil and gas today. That’s resulted in 43 billion barrels of oil being recovered from the UK Continental Shelf, with estimates stating that 22 billion barrels of recoverable reserves remain.

The UK’s potential doesn’t stop there. New opportunities, such as decommissioning, are opening up for companies too.

UK market conditions for oil and gas

With over 100 years of experience, the UK oil and gas market is widely acknowledged as a global leader.

We are well-placed to investigate new technologies and innovations. The UK is now focusing on technically challenging methods of extraction and production, including:

  • heavy oil
  • high-pressure, high-temperature extraction
  • enhanced oil recovery
  • special materials for sealing systems
Safe development of shale gas

Onshore, the UK government is backing the safe development of shale gas because it’s good for jobs, energy security and the UK’s plans to reduce carbon in the economy.

According to a report published by Ernst & Young in 2014, investment in shale could reach 33 billion GBP and support 64,000 jobs.

The British Geological Survey has identified areas with potentially large reserves of shale gas and oil. UK geology is promising, but we make no assumptions about production levels. We need exploration to determine the potential.

Our current priority is investment in new gas plants with new build, storage and distribution opportunities. Our switch from coal to gas will require storage and distribution network upgrades.

A highly skilled workforce and supportive skills for the oil and gas sector

Our technologies are at the forefront of the environmental sector. This has resulted in a large, highly developed and flexible workforce.

Over 350,000 people are employed by the oil and gas industry in the UK. That includes over 50,000 experts in subsea production, who have pioneered deep-sea exploration and extraction.

Our education sector is closely aligned with the needs of the oil and gas industry. All levels of training are provided, ensuring present and future generations of our workforce are highly skilled. This includes technical and vocational skills as well as undergraduate and postgraduate studies and research.

Government support for UK oil and gas

In 2015, the UK government introduced a 1.3 billion GBP package of tax measures for the oil and gas industry to ensure that the UK Continental Shelf remains an attractive destination for investment.

The government also committed 20 million GBP in funding for the second round of seismic surveys to support new exploration activity on the UK Continental Shelf. This will give companies a greater chance of discovering opportunities without having to fund the surveys themselves.

The government also has up to 50 billion GBP available to support finance and insurance for supplies from within the UK to buyers outside the UK. This support takes the form of guarantees, insurance and loans issued by its export credit agency, UK Export Finance.